Disaster Predictions: People Claim Premonitions of Sept. 11 Attacks, Japanese Tsunami

Are these predictions fake or for real?

ByABC News
October 24, 2012, 12:16 PM

Oct. 25, 2012 — -- intro: The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The Japanese tsunami. The sinking of the Titanic.

These were unfathomable disasters that cost thousands of lives, and yet some people claim that they had premonitions that foretold these catastrophic events.

Dr. Larry Dossey studied numerous examples of premonitions for his book, "The Power of Premonitions." To combat skeptics, Dossey cites such examples as the 1950 explosion of a church in Beatrice, Neb. The explosion happened during a scheduled choir practice, and yet the church was empty. Each choir member was either absent or late for practice.

"Nobody had a clue that anything bad was going to happen. But yet everybody found some reason to not go to church," Dossey said. "I think that the unconscious works in very strange ways."

But those who don't believe, such as Matt Hutson, an author and writer for Psychology Today, said that science debunks the idea of premonitions.

"If premonitions are real, the most convenient way to explain them would be that information is traveling back in time from an event to a person. And so if that is right, then pretty much everything else we know about physics is wrong," Hutson said. "That's kind of a big hurdle to get over."

Click through to see examples of supposed disaster predictions. Do they ring true to you?

Learn more about premonitions, including the scientists who study them, on "20/20: The Sixth Sense" Friday at 10 p.m. ET.

quicklist: 1title: The Attacks of 9/11text: Barrett Naylor was a Wall Street executive. He was a brass tacks kind of guy with no interest in psychic phenomena. But one morning in 1993, that changed. While stepping off a train in New York's Grand Central Station, he had a sense that he couldn't describe -- something telling him he should turn around and go home. He followed that inner voice and was glad he did -- that day in 1993 turned out to be the day of the World Trade Center bombing.

Naylor got the same feeling again eight years later, on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

"Something told me ... that it was time to go home," he said. "I should just turn around and go back home."

So he did.

Today, Naylor regrets not sharing that message with others, believing he might have helped save lives.

"I'm thankful that [the premonition] happened, and guilty about it," he said.

There are heartbreaking stories of those who lost loved ones in the attacks who also said they'd experienced premonitions.

Allison Wallice's husband, John, died in Tower 1. She remembers a dream she had about going into a bright light before he left for work that morning, and the uneasy feelings that followed it.

The dream, she said, "was telling me something bad was going to happen."

David McCourt's wife and 4-year-old daughter were on United Flight 175. He said his wife spoke of dying six weeks before Sept. 11 and he himself had been struck by what he said was a physical premonition after he wished his wife and daughter a safe flight over the phone.

"I stood up to put the phone on the receiver, and this flash came into my head. It was so bright and so powerful, it knocked me to the bed. And I said, what is this about," McCourt told ABC News. "I knew in my heart it was a crash."

Wallice, McCourt and Naylor's stories, and more than 200 others, are included in the 2010 book "Messages: Signs, Visits, and Premonitions from Loved Ones Lost on 9/11," by Bonnie McEneaney, whose husband, Eamon, died in the attacks.

The book was prompted by something McEneaney's husband told her the day he died.

The morning before he went to work, Eamon McEneaney said he was experiencing vertigo, something he hadn't suffered in months.

"He said, 'Oh my God, I just am feeling so terrible,'" McEneaney said. "There's no doubt in my mind he knew that he was going to die."

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quicklist: 2title: The Japanese Tsunami and Nuclear Meltdowntext: Ryan Michaels is the resident psychic in rural Beaverdale, Pa. He said premonitions of disaster -- such as the tsunami -- often come to him while looking at a map on his wall.

"I closed my eyes, and I pinpointed where I felt drawn to, near Japan, and I saw two explosions, and felt shaking, which resembled an earthquake. ... [I felt] that this would cause some type of a flooding, or tsunami."

It sounds pretty concrete, but at the time, the predictions Michaels wrote on his website were vaguer.

On the website he said that he predicted, in the following passage, the explosions at two nuclear reactors following the tsunami: "I am seeing an explosion of some sort. When I say explosion I am thinking that it is going to be directed in a place that would bring a large amount of income. Maybe someplace industrial or something government-owned. This is going to be the main explosion that is going to happen, but I am also seeing another one, smaller and less harmful following."

On his site he also wrote of predictions on "flooding, earthquakes and tornadoes. Especially with earthquakes."

Those predictions, he claimed, foretold the Japanese tsunami and the earthquake that triggered it.

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quicklist: 3title: The Sinking of the Titanictext: Fourteen years before the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, author Morgan Robertson published a novella then known as "Futility" that was later renamed "Wreck of the Titan."

The novella told the fictional story of a disgraced former Royal Navy lieutenant who boarded a ship called the "Titan," then the largest ship in the world that was hyped as an unsinkable vessel. But in an uncanny resemblance to what happened to the Titanic, the fictional Titan did sink after hitting an iceberg on a foggy night.

Critics have argued that there are rational explanations behind the similarities between Robertson's story and the Titanic disaster.

Learn more about premonitions, including the scientists who study them, on "20/20: The Sixth Sense" Friday at 10 p.m. ET.

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